The FA Cup replay this evening is a big game for SolihullMoors and Blackpool. Some of the magic of the Cup may have departed for the bigger teams but it is still there in the early rounds when teams compete toget through to the third round and a chance to play a big club. TheMoors and Blackpool are competing for a chance to play Arsenal.
There’s also the money, of course. TV money, gate receipts and prize money from the FA Cup are not important for Premier League clubs; they get far more from playing in the League. But FA Cup money can make a tremendous difference for clubs lower down the pyramid. For example, an article on the maths behind a jackpot FA Cup run reported:
“Warrington Town’s 2014-15 FA Cuprun made them around 70% more than their income for the whole of the previousseason. By far the biggest chunk of this came from their televised ties againstExeter and Gateshead.”
The same article reported that Arsenal’s winning cup run in 2013-14 made them £4.2 million but that was only 2% of their revenue for that season. This helps to explain why some of the bigger clubs don’t take the Cup too seriously and don’t use their best players in the early rounds.
Money is also the reason why only 10 of the 32 third-round FA Cup games will start at 3 pm on Saturday, 5 January. The FA has arranged a new £820m overseas TV contract and some of the games will be moved to different times because of this. Malcolm Clarke, the chair of the Football Supporters Federation, is quoted as saying,
“The third round of the FACup on the first Saturday in January was always one of the great highlights ofthe season, and to have less than one third of the games kicking off at threeo’clock on Saturday definitely to some extent diminishes the magic of theday,”
The 12.30 kick-off for Birmingham’s game against West Ham will also mean an early start for fans travelling down to London on the day.
In the last game I watched, I saw my team lose but didn’t see them stop making an effort. In the game at Blackburn, they showed their character by the way they came back to get a draw. I believe that anything can happen in the Cup and that we could beat West Ham. Moors fans will have similar feelings today and will have been dreaming about watching Arsenal play in their stadium. I hope their dreams and mine come true. There is still some magic in the FA Cup.